Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pizza Masterclass with Chef Theo at the Hilton

Several years ago, when I returned from the States, the sight of certain things to eat really put me off. Pizza was one of them. Atleast the American version of the pizza - a single slice loaded with toppings and a diet coke on the  side. I'd eaten so much of it - because it's the cheapest thing available - that the association made me giddy.

I don't think I ate a pizza for three years (or more!) after that. 

 I couldn't stand the sight of the pizzas from Dominoes or Pizza Hut or what have you not. I'd only eat what was made at home. I'd manage to eat a slice or two and always insist on a salad on the side. But I loved a thin crust pizza. Margarita my complete favourite.

.Photo Courtesy Sangeeta Khanna
When my husband and I started dating, I realised that he was Pizza fan No.1 .And not of any pizza - thin crust with salami and cheese in specific. Often when we'd go out, we'd order a thin crust pizza and share and I'd happily hand over my salami to him. (Now later in life, we've learnt to go half-half, back then it was total love). 

Because we've been making pizza from scratch from whenever I can remember, I didn't find it hard to replicate what he wanted at home. I'd stock up on the passata (freeze theexcess) and buy the toppings we liked and bake on a tile, like how they suggested on Masterchef Australia and throw many a pizza parties at home.

So when the Blogger's Table was invited to The Hilton, Mayur Vihar for a Masterclass held by Chef Theodore Rudiferia, I was curious. I wanted to see whether I was doing it - making the pizza dough and the pizza itself - the right way. 

.Photo Courtesy Sangeeta Khanna
From Merano (close to Milan) in Italy, Chef Theo, as he likes to be called, is very focussed about pizza. No, extremely passionate. He's the one who opened Pomodoro, the Italian restaurant at the Hilton in Janakpuri.
That said, Chef Theo was very matter of fact from the word go. While he demonstrated how to knead, how to roll and what makes for a great topping, we guys got to watch on.
Here's some of his dos and don'ts for a great pizza


Dos
1. Knead our dough as much as you can. You'll get a better crust
2. Use a rolling pin that rolls. Less pressure on the dough and more even rolls
3. Mark the dough with your fingertips, the dough on the side will rise and give your pizza a better shape.
4. Substitute mozarella with scarmoza for a mildly different but stringy taste
5. Season your vegetables - including your onions, aubergines, peppers, mushrooms and zuchinni - with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Just saute it slightly so that it cooks through a bit.
6. Keep your oven as hot as you can.

Don'ts
1. Forget to season the pizza dough. Not enough salt in the pizza base, won't bring out the flavours
2. Let it prove for more than 20-30 minutes. Really, that's all the dough needs, anything more you're going to get bread. 
3. Overload the pizza with toppings. You'll never be able to taste all the elements, including the cheese.
4.Let your pizza, once topped, sit outside for too long. You must move quickly to retain all the flavours and ensure that the crust does not become soggy.

He made five pizzas for us - three vegetarians, one seafood and one meaty. Each one was awesome. The crust was crisp and crusty, the cheese stringy and the passata lovely acidic with  flavours of garlic and oregano.

My favourite, though, was the aubergine pizza. I've never eaten an aubergine pizza before. A sandwich yes, no pizza. I love the way the soft olive-oily eggplant melded with the thin and crunchy base and balanced out beautifully with the passata.

Aubergine pizza. Photo Courtesy Sushmita Sarkar

I really enjoyed the masterclass even though we didn't really get any hand's on experience - with rolling the dough or spreading the toppings. It just sort of reinforced what I was doing was right. :)  Oh and I nearly forgot! Apeksha brought us the most amazing jams she's making at The Gourmet Jar. I got to take a plum jam back :)

Do read what the others have to say about the Masterclass. Catch Sid, Charis, Nachiketa, Apeksha, Sangeeta, Sushmita and Rekha here. 

10 comments:

  1. All good pizzas decoded :-)
    I wish I could have made one myself there :-)

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  2. Wow... pizza looks so delish.. did u get to eat it :P

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    1. But ofcourse. Really good pizzas they were too

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  3. i loved the aubergine pizza too!!!..it was yummmmmmmmmm!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  4. All your copious notes are in the blogpost! wah! :)

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    1. hahahaha, perils of being the profession i am in :)

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  5. Love the sorted out way you reviewed it Ruchira. Now I wish ever more that I had made it that evening. A question? Was the meat {other than the cold cuts} cooked too? I love thin crust too... and must learn how to make a good tomato concasse. Recipe???

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    Replies
    1. I have two will mail it to you in shaam ko. I like his passata a lot too

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